Samella Sanders Lewis (Born February 27, 1924, in New Orleans) is an African American artist (primarily a printmaker and painter), author, art historian and former educator. Widely exhibited and collected as an artist herself, she is nevertheless perhaps even better known as a historian, critic, and collector of art, especially African-American art. Lewis has completed four degrees, five films, seven books, and a substantial body of artworks which have received great critical respect. Her artistic and wonderful mind showed itself at the early age of four, when she started drawing and painting. She pursued an art degree starting off at Dillard University in 1941, but left Dillard for Hampton Institute in Virginia, earning her masters degree in 1947. She earned her B.A. degree at Hampton University, then earned her master and doctorate in fine arts and art history at the Ohio State University.
Later she became chair of fine Arts Department at Florida A&M University in 1952; she was a professor at the State University of New York and at Scripps College in Claremont, California. She is the founder of the International Review of African American Art in 1975, also the Museum of African American Arts in 1976.
In the 1960s 1970’s her work reflected humanity and freedom. She produced lithographs, linocuts, and serigraphs.
NAACP Member and she is a collector of art, the art collection includes African, Chinese, Asian, South American and many others.
Awards and Recognitions
- 1962 received Fulbright Fellowship to study Asian culture at First Institute of Chinese Civilization and Tung Mai University in Taiwan.
- 1964-1965 National Defense Education Act postdoctoral fellow at University of Southern California studying Chinese language and Asian Civilization
- 1995 UNICEF Award for the Visual Arts
- 1996-1997 The Getty Center for the History of Art and Humanities also named her a Distinguished Scholar
- 1993 Charles White lifetime Achievement Award
- 2003 The History Maker Award
- 2004 Special Day Recognition Award for Outstanding Contributions from the City of New Orleans
- 2005 Alumni Association Award from The Ohio State University
- Lewis, Samella S. African American art and artists (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1990) ISBN 0-520-08788-7 ISBN 9780520087880 ISBN 0-520-08532-9 ISBN 9780520085329 (Worldcat link: )
- Samella S Lewis; Ruth G Waddy. Black artists on art (Los Angeles, Contemporary Crafts Publishers, 1969) OCLC 48813 (Worldcat link: )
- Stella Jones Gallery
- University of Delaware: Paul R. Jones Collection
- African American Museum of Dallas
- Tilford Art Group
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